EDITORS WEEK

It has finally arrived, Christmas week is officially here and I am now starting the wind down ahead of picking the baton back up in January and seeing what we can do with the good ship MANPEDIA.

I’ve been learning that keeping your head down and cracking on is without question the most effective way to make progress. No Bells or whistles, screaming for attention or setting up platforms of ill conceived notions (yes historically massively guilty on that front). I find now that it simplifies things, you remove the expectations and premature opinions and judgements from others. Not that either of those things should ever be on your radar anyway. Do things for you and how you want them done.

The ground I have made up applying this logic is staggering and it’s only here that I’ll mention it otherwise this whole piece is pointless!

So, Christmas. A place for me and my tiny and regrouping family to enjoy each other’s company, eat some delicious foods and have a good laugh. Enjoy the down time and keep watering the seeds that have been sewn for 2020.

Merry Christmas to one and all. Yes, even you..

SD

EDITORS WEEK

What a week. Family and life in general is very much at the forefront of my mind currently.

Midweek my partner lost her father. It has been on the cards for a little while now but of course the reality of the event can never truly be prepared for. Regardless of what has gone before losing a parent is nothing short of devastating and sitting there in his room as she tended to him it brought back some all too familiar memories of my fathers passing. It was spookily similar. We sit there, helpless. Nothing we can say or do can change the outcome for anyone. Nothing we offer up as a bargaining tool will ever put the inevitable at bay. The final curtain must always fall.

Then he was at rest, a life long serving policeman had completed his final beat, his final shout. For anyone that is yet to have lost a parent the void it leaves is quite surreal. They become people that we don’t necessarily see or speak to on a daily basis but the second we need them they are the first people we turn to. After all, it is their guidance that helps us forge our own paths. Nearly four years on it still doesn’t feel like my dad is actually gone even though I know he has.

So my efforts have naturally been focused on helping Anna. It’s all the stupid little things like doing the dinner, the washing and all the other mundane every day nonsense that can enable her to try to rest. Of course nothing helps the soothing more than simply holding each other. Feeling her melt into my body as I’m holding her and feeling her fall to sleep is as special to me as it is needed for her.

She is going to need some strength in the coming weeks. Not only has she the weight of processing the loss of her father and all the arrangements that come with it her mother who is in care appears to have taken a severe nose dive in health pretty much at the exact time to the minute that her father passed away.

You do hear tales of it, one partner goes and in the blink of an eye the other follows. This may be the case, it’s what we all seem to be thinking. It feels like she has sensed that her work in holding her family together is done, she can let go. This could be the kindest outcome for her mum, she is just a shell of the person she was, there is no road back for her condition she can never be who she was. It’s quite a strange concept to admit really, that the kindest thing you want for someone is for them to be released. I know it would life a huge weight from Anna. The love that woman holds for her mother is awe inspiring. She always references her in tales or fires out hilarious anecdotes about her.

So as no doubt another very early night descends on us as we try and keep our eyes open past 8 o’clock my mind wonders to my family. A small unit but a wonderful one. Events like these make you take stock and reevaluate what you see as important and they are mightily important to me.

By the time this is posted I’d imagine my eyelids will be heavy but let’s get this woman fed first.

SD

EDITORS WEEK

It’s never been lost on my how important good friends are and I consider myself very lucky to have the friends that I do.

We all have ‘friends’ but there is always those that are more than that, people with a deeper connection and stronger purpose. This is usually and should be a small circle, a core of friends that know you, understand you and taking all that into consideration still tolerate having you around!

Speaking for myself and with my friends, I love them. We all bring something different to the table but are all on exactly the same page. It doesn’t matter how many times we reminisce about a thing, it doesn’t matter what the passage of time has been since we saw each other it just picks up instantly from where we left off. From prepubescent boys, through our teenage years, sailing through our twenties and thirties and currently coasting through our forties nothing gets old, no one falls out or argues. All we want is to have a laugh and know that everyone else is happy in their lives. That’s maybe why is seems to be a winning formula. There’s no drama, no spite or jealousy just a few guys enjoying their lives together.

Heck it’s even why I started MANPEDIA, so hopefully we can build a professional life together too, seeing the world and experiencing as much as we can.

It’s these times, the nights out, the trips away, the gigs, the meals, when we catch up and spend the night belly laughing it really makes me thankful for those around me. It’s testament to the pros of keeping your circle small.

So as the week goes, it’s been nice to be reminded of the kind and genuine people around me. It’s been a week of family visits, photography trips and just quite simply good times.

It’s been a welcome reminder that while the world we love in seems to spiral further out of control that the simple things can make it all wash away in a heartbeat.

SD

We are one.

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Things just seem to happen don’t they? Good and bad, things just ‘happen’. Now obviously we can generate events in both the positive and negative variety by our actions, decisions and the general energy we project out into the universe but I am talking about the other anomalies, the parts of life we aren’t expecting, the bits and pieces that just kind of, fall into our laps. I’ve been thinking about this recently, quite a lot actually and I’m not overly sure what sparked it off. I was just really sitting back and looking at the people I have in my life. The long time servers, the family members, friends old and new. People from all different walks of life that I am incredibly lucky enough to have close to me. People so incredibly important to me I fill with an overwhelming privilege. Its not what I would describe as a person to person thing, all of these people could meet in one place and share common ground. For me, we are one.

So jus the other night I took my daughter to her school parent and options evening to have a chat with her teachers and discuss the options before her as she prepares to head into this new academic chapter. We were accompanied by her best friend who’s parents couldn’t make it so I played the role of guardian so she could talk to who she needed to during the evening. I think it may have been then that this subject really made itself apparent. As we all worked our way around the hallow chatted options and ideas until we hit the photography stall, a subject that my daughter has incredible natural talent for, a lot more so than her old man. We have all the kit indoor and regularly head out to capture the world, but her friend doesn’t have any kit or camera but really wanted to choose this course. Instantly I thought “I’d get her a camera, it means a lot to her and she should be able to do it”. Naturally I’m sure her folks will think and do the same but it was just this feeling of creating an opportunity for someone. Seeking no thanks or reward, just kindness to those you know so they can start on a path. I hope to see the world taking this outlook more someday. Not the stance of I want so I should get because nothing worth having comes without a tonne of work before, during and after. But kindness, what does that cost aside from a fragment of your time?

I would quite literally do anything for those around me. I’m no martyr or saint but I believe kindness, acts of kindness and generosity  just make the world a better place to exist in and if I can make a difference to how those people around me are feeling then I will. You should too. You do get rewarded, it makes you feel good doing something for someone that you know will make them happy. It’s a free but priceless gift. Inner circle or outer, beyond the outer people are still people. Of course you’re not going to have common ground with all of your billions of neighbours but the outlook of kindness carries far. The appreciation to act kindly to others travels well beyond the spoken.

The people in your life should all know you as you. There should be no comments of ‘oh you seem different when you’re with them’ kind of conversations. you as a person should be a constant with no need to  project a false persona and likewise with with people in your life. Each and every one of them should be able to interact and intermingle with everyone else as you should all be sharing the same common energy. Be mindful of those that are kept a distance for no real apparent reason. They are the secret holders with an energy that displaces that of others. For example, I could have the entirity of my inner circle in a room and if I stepped out I know each one could and would share a common ground, a relatable journey. Thats why I love them all. No secrets, no dramas, the closet doors blown right off and skeletons all illuminated with floodlights. I like that my flaws and mistakes are exposed. going through life with secrets keeps you eternally petrified that they could be exposed at any time and in turn change everyones opinion about you. That is no way to live.

Not that you should pay any mind to peoples opinions. Just be you. Being you is good enough for me. There’s no need to have an angle, there’s no need to search for a reason or a ‘thing’ in order for people to like you. It is just that plain simple. People, the people for you will just want to see you happy and likewise that is all you should ever want for them.

Going through all of this over the last couple of years has not only taught me about myself, about how I need to work on, grow and develop myself but also on how much I can do for people. I use the word I but it is a ‘we’.

We can all make such a difference to the people and world around us and it is such an easy thing to do. Just ask someone how they are, never underestimate how powerful that question can be. Sometimes people just need to hear that, they might be the no fuss or thrills type of person but inside they are torn, struggling or just could be a little overwhelmed. I feel I dropped the ball with this just yesterday. I missed a f friends diagnosis of bowel cancer. She is the tiniest, kindest, friendliest and happiest ball of life and now has this hard road in front of her. Now she knows she has my 24/7 support and this has made me take stock of things, just as life changing news seems to do. I work so hard and tirelessly that I completely missed this news so now I’ll ensure that work is done as always but people, my people and more are in the forefront of my mind.

It is a tough balance though, you have to put yourself first but also keep all of those close to you in our thoughts. A much as I want to I can’t look after and protect everyone. I can’t take away my daughters shyness, I can’t take away Nat’s cancer, I can’t stop Jim accelerating his high blood pressure. If I could I would. I’d take every bit of them on, but you cant. All you can do is offer support and love but don’t do it just when bad news comes along. Offer support and love even when the good times are in full flow. That is how those unbreakable bonds are formed and that is how people know you care. Go beyond a Facebook status comment, tat is just a hollow attempt to show others that you are nice. Life isn’t a status, it’s not a location tag or a photo of your new nails conveniently over your Mercedes steering wheel. It is a compulsion, an involuntary act to make sure the people you love ants care about feel your energy and you feel theirs.

Be a tribe. A collection of completely different individuals all sharing the same love. Remove any clashes in that energy. Take everyone in your life, in your close and trusted inner circle; you all stand individually, all on your own pathways and journeys but will forever remain linked and intertwined.

All of us are bonded, we are one.

Lifting weights.

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You have walked into my trap, this isn’t a fifteen minute blast of me sharing how I make my mad gains. Nope this is about shifting those mental weights, the things we let hold us down, the things we allow to hold us back. So instead of being physically strong, removing the bragging rights to your squat or bench max it is time to free yourself of the mental weights we encounter. Now these can be imposed on us or self inflicted but either way the bottom line is we choose to allow them to remain, but probably the most dangerous aspect of these weights we bear is the fact that sometimes we don’t even know they are there. We can live our lives held down without truly knowing because we adjust the wrong way to the influences that are upon us.

I have been pushed a bit from pillar to post in this subject. For the bulk share of my life I existed carrying around weights I didn’t know were there or more accurately I should say I knew were there but accepted them to be something else. Quite simply as ‘part of me’. But as with all things it all bubbles up to the surface sooner or later. Mark my words there, there are no exceptions whatsoever. So I carried these weights, these ‘things’ around for a long long time assuming that was just me and my life until life swung into gear and forced the issue and made me look further into myself, further into my happiness or should I say further into my unhappiness. As I have documented before, unearthing the root cause of my behavioural loop, the year one of the creation and manifestation to something I kind of knew was there but accepted as my ‘normal’ was the beginning of the making of me yet it was something else that forced me into a corner leaving me no option but to  address everything in my life, in my mind.

The avoidance of facing it throughout my life eventually brought everything to a head at a time that was quite honestly very inconvenient for me but that is lifes job. Not ding things when you deem them to be the right time, perfect timing doesn’t exist in that way. Instead perfect timing is doing something when you are meant to, not when you want to. No one really wants to have that close look at themselves as it involves looking at some potentially very ugly parts you. All of this does alter how you see and approach things and for me, now penned in that corner I had to begin to look, I had to begin to delve and I needed begin to resolve. Strangely it wasn’t really this that changed things for me, well it did as it taught me many many things but it was coming through all of that and emerging on the other side that I felt myself change. I had made all the necessary behavioural changes. I had learnt where I was going wrong but more importantly it had unlocked something in my mind. It was like a filter had been added to my entire thought process and outlook. A little bit of an anti-bullshit filter.

Yet this wasn’t me home and dry. I had started to realign myself, during that process my then partner decided to move on with her life but that didn’t stop me. I didn’t just throw the towel in and revert back to my old ways, seeing as it was the attempt to save my relationship that has led me onto this path and just because that relationship didn’t exist anymore didn’t mean the new me didn’t either. I had made a commitment to straighten out the rails and that is what I was going to do. I persevered, I worked, I refined and I focused on one thing; being a better version of myself each and every day and that is something I achieved and something I continue to strive to achieve each day from here on out.

Yet there was a weight that held me down for a long long time and none of my new tricks, skills and lessons seemed to be able to shift it. Single life was something very new to me having effectively been in relationships for twenty years  and on one hand I coasted into the single realm, applying myself into my work and my own self care but on the other hand I never felt like I had truly broken free. Well, I hadn’t. I wasn’t allowed to and held in this state of limbo like I was a safety net that was left in the background as a reassuring glimpse and link to the past. Not the nicest of experiences when someone who was said to have loved you but was quite happy to inflict this mental torment as they skipped along through life seemingly not overly bothered by the fallout. This part of my life truly is the best example I have for describing the weights we carry around as we try and struggle through the endless and countless sleepless nights with my mind racing, running through every possible scenario once every scrap of trust had disintegrated and although relief was felt when it all ended the weight continued to press down on me. Never truly tasting freedom or being able to move on and nothing I did, no matter how busy I became seemed to shift anything at all. I did feel this though, I did feel it pressing down on me each and every day. Regardless of the lack of emotion and attachment I could physically feel my world being compressed.

I won’t lie it takes it toll and although I was long passed joining the dots that I knew were there my life was hindered. Like swimming fully clothed, yes you can do it but it gets exhausting quickly and if you’re not careful you can get into trouble and having that choice to be able to move fully untaken away from me really did affect me but; the day did come. After a very long and gruelling torment the clouds lifted and with a handsome sum having to be paid I was released from my mental shackles and as I have said, when that news came through I actually felt the weight lift off of me.

So sometimes, no matter how in tune we are with ourselves or well being and our situation. Sometimes there are factors quite simply out of our control and we just have to ride the wave until they run their course. This doesn’t mean your whole life has to be on standby. Personally I have made the biggest and most successful moves and decisions ever in my entire life while I was suspended and waiting around. But only waiting for the true end. I refused to let my life be on complete hold because of her and every decision, every goal, every scrap of progress was made for me, by me. The weights we carry round with us can affect us in ways we may not even realise but once made aware of them we can adjust and we can recalculate how to move forwards each day.

That is the key, to accept everything is rarely perfect but we can enjoy happy, healthy and completely fulfilled lives. then, when we actually lift those weights it feels even sweeter. It is a turbo boost to what you have already been doing and whatever was holding you down fades into the distance leaving you only with the lessons and the strengths enduring it created.

Splinters.

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We can put up walls and barriers all we like, we can bat away thoughts, we can avoid people and situations but sooner or later we have to shut down and like it or not you cannot go to sleep with your guard up. Whoever you project yourself to be during the day, whatever battles and struggles you are facing or avoiding during the waking hours, when the lights it’s lights out the guard slips down, you cannot protect yourself from your dreams.

Although we should relinquish control of everything in our lives except for that of our decision making we have zero control to what our slumber will bring us when it is just us and our minds without us being concious to be able to switch and change our chain of thought. Dreams truly are a marvelled thing, sometimes they are incredibly easy to quantify. You can chop them up and spot all of the things you have encountered that day and see how they have been plonked into a crazy blender. Sometimes they are in ultra HD, dreams so real that you are convinced even when you wake up that is was fact and depending on the subject matter that can be quite disturbing. Then how many times do you remember mere fragments? It is all still in there but your mind will only release a shard of what was racing around.

I dream, I dream a lot. I always have, probably because my mind is always chattering away in the background. It actually dawned on me just recently that I think the reason I am generally so quiet is because my mind is so busy. It’s not frantic or chaotic but I am thinking, ever thinking. I have to state that I am not over-thinking, I sent that packing a long long time ago. Over thinking is toxic and brings about nothing but bad energy. No, instead my mind is packed with everything I am working towards. Now with two podcasts to fuel, my book, mentoring, photoshoots, training, other projects and all of the other trimmings such as friends and family it is a full on daily task to say the least. But it is self inflicted and to be honest as I am, I love it. I relish it in fact. Being creative, being surrounded by others in the same mindset is inspiring in itself. What a mixed bag of creatives I am lucky enough to be in and involved with. Chefs, actors, athletes, posing coaches, beauticians, inventors, models, football club managers. I could rattle out a fantastic list diversity and that right there is why I love my life and secondly that right there might just be why my dreams are intense and certainly would justify my quiet person in company. I am not ignoring you, I’m just working in my mind!

However, my dreams..these have caused me yeah I’d have to say distress these last couple of years. Yes we all dream every night but I go in hard, well my dreams certainly come at me hard. They seem to be the single thing remaining that are trying to not let me go. Some may say that this may mean there is some unfinished business lingering around somewhere but no, the last couple of years are both physically and emotionally buttoned up for me. It was a recent dream, quite literally two days ago that has made me want to tap this subject about my dinner plate today. You know this podcast, this story is that; it is my story. I share with you what I have been through, what it did to me before and after and how I used all of it to build something better. This is the evolution of me, my place to vent, my place to work things out. I truly thank you all for allowing me to do that and I’d encourage anyone that feels that they don’t have a voice to do the same.

So I have this in my mind. It’s not causing me discomfort but it can no longer remain restricted to my nights. I want to pour light on it and see what I must do to break it down.

This dream, my dreams are flooded by my last relationship and to say nightly wouldn’t be an over exaggeration. There’s never really any real meat on the bones and I can very easily see what my brain was trying to tell me. With that being that, it’s categorically knowing you are right but not actually getting it direct form the source. That will plain and simple straight up never happen so it has left this; splinter in my mind. I can’t reiterate enough that this isn’t something my conscious mind dignifies with even a split second but as I said, when the lights go out the rules change. So I have kind of accepted that this splinter exists and because I know the truth I feel no need to seek it in black and white. So I treat it just as it is, a splinter. I won’t squeeze it and I don’t try and hook it out with a needle. Just know that sooner or later it will work it’s own way to the surface and pop out of it’s own accord.

But this dream from a few nights ago felt different and that right there is an anomaly as it ‘felt’ different. I could feel things, emotions, hurt, anxiety, sadness. None of my dreams are reoccuring that I am aware of and I pay them no mind but this did.. rock me. I don’t think an in-depth description of the dream is will serve to be any benefit but more in the sharing of how it made me feel. I awoke with this very strong feeling of self criticism, the dream had made me feel as if I was at fault for everything when I know that simply isn’t the case. Yes of course I contributed and contributed heavily in places but to be made to feel like I was completely to blame did, yeah it upset me. Yet it did create something else. Maybe the splinter itself was actually identified. Time will tell on this but that very same day after the dream I removed what I believe is the last adjoining thread and it was just that. Our chat thread.

It was something that even when I talked in Block/delete I couldn’t manage. The removal of the conversation we shared. It is all well and good blocking and deleting a number but when you can still see an interaction it does to some degree keep things ‘aline’. I had probably kept this thread as deleting it truly did delete her existence to me and my world. There was over two thousand media files, years of chat, laughs, arguments, plans, the break up itself. All there. A perfectly preserved time line that I was not strong enough to clear. Until now.

This dream shifted something again in my mind. It pushed the splinter to the surface and  it would seem it may have put a stop to the dreams. Certainly just in these past few nights I have not been visited. I am under no illusion that will not be the last time my dreams are found in this channel but I just wanted to share that yet again it was the experiencing something that disrupted me, that removed my rhythm that then made me sit up and address something in my world that needed to be altered.

Don’t hold on to the past. you are moving forwards away from it so quite simply you are attempting to hold on to something that is stationary when you are on a plane that wants you to move forwards. It is holding you back. Never allow anything in life to hold you back, to restrict or influence your future.

Throughout life we will collect these splinters, we just need to remember they are temporary. Not a life threatening condition.

Block/Delete.

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It’s a bold move. To remove every piece of somebody from your life, not as a temporary measure but as a life decision. It’s certainly a lot easier in theory than in reality, a couple of taps in your mind and all channels are closed off, sorted. But factor in the human mind, emotion, memories, feelings and it’s not so straight forward. The bring in the vastness of the social platforms and free world access we all embrace to information and suddenly it becomes a task of well thought out and thorough consideration. It boils down to a simple question as to whether or not you are wiling to undertake the ‘project’. Does this person bring any positive energy into your life in them being there? Now that’s a big question, a question who’s answer needs some serious thought. Step back and think about the magnitude of that. Any positive energy at all, you’d like to think everyone offers somebody some percentage of positive fuel but as with life some things are black and white and some thing just plain ain’t. It’s now that we have to start weighing things up, not saying construct a pro’s and con’s list but look selfishly at your life and the lives of those around you that it affects. You’re now making decisions based on what is best for you, that is all we can do.

For me it has been something that was on the cards from day one and it was a decision I made two years ago and I have had it tumble drying in my mind ever since. It was a decision that I made long before I had even got over her, long before I had even absorbed what had happened and a decision I had long struggled with exercising. 10 years in the blink of an eye or so it seems at the time but the reflective truth is if you analysed it back the wheels were long in motion. As the moment of truth neared ever closer so did the decision, even to the point of me just staring down at the option on my phone when the moment finally did arrive. I can tell you now I didn’t ace it first time, I couldn’t tell you how many times I’d close my phone and put it off with the build up of the moment racing through my mind.

I thought back to the preparation I had undertaken to get here, from both sides. I balanced it all up because there are and always will be two sides to every story and I’ve never been a boy scout. It’s only really through all of this that I have truly grown up. So I know it wasn’t one way traffic when you reflect over 10 years. We can all..do more.

But we only really face the facts of the matter and for me, as I have documented before I am like an old diesel locomotive. I keep going, I don’t stop and I don’t give up and I more than likely would have carried on soldiering on destroying my mental health in the process but as with everything in life, it actually worked out for the best. If it was just me and her, letting all that had gone before pass then the outcome could have been different  but factor in other influences and, you know what..No the outcome was never and could ever be different. See this is the see-saw that I had to deal with. I get get reminded of some of the very bottom line facts and it renders the whole situation null and void. Unforgivable acts, details somewhat irrelevant now after the passing of time but the fact of the deeds will always remain cast in stone and ever present when it comes to my relationship and that even greater force of my daughters well being. That quite simply outweighs and top trumps any indecision that may have crept into my mind via a sneaky side gate.

My daughter and my Dad and what they went through, what all of my family went through, how that pushed me into a corner and gagged me from everything else going on in my world at the time. That is why I made decision, not for me but for those two. It’s stepping back and looking at the situation from afar with a little distance between you and your emotions. Like anything  else a decision made fuelled by emotions and feelings will more than likely be one made in haste and ultimately regret. There are a few things I regret in my life but I have to remember it has all forged who I am now. Every bad decision, even slipped opportunity was merely a temporary upset in order to get the ship steered correctly to it’s real destination. That is what we need to remember, the bigger picture. I reference that a lot because that for me is how I have to exist, seeing the bigger picture in everything. Everything has a history, everything and everyone have an untold story and private battles but it is looking at where those battles got you. Stripping back the emotions and leaving just he facts, the truth. As they don’t change, the don’t lie, they are a consistent in our lives. Make sure you deal exclusively with these two criteria and you’re never really going to stray too far from the right path. I find myself redeeming the right path on quite a regular basis as I continue to grow within myself. So don’t remain stuck in the mud of something because that is what you would have always done, learn to adapt and build off the lessons along the way.

So I did step back, I removed all of the emotion and stared hard at the truth and what a hard truth it was, quite the ugly reality, something that I could not entertain as even an option. When D-day first happened I did the same thing but in a very knee jerk manner. I cut off a whole bunch of people in one foul swoop. People that I liked a lot but had very close ties to someone else that I just couldn’t or have any further connection to. Although knee jerk there was not a single doubt in my mind that it was the right thing to do. The gut feeling as always was there but this situation, this decision had me now staring at my phones screen with just one tap left to end it all there was real conflict. Emotions were doing their best to create a fog over doing the right thing and it was clearly the right thing to do as it was so hard to do. just as everything in life the hard way is more often than not the right way. That is something else I have learned to embrace now.

People though, they are more than just a lesson for us. You share your life with them, for no matter what duration they touch your world and can leave quite a profound imprint on you. That is something to be embraced too, there is no need to run and hide from people incase they hurt us and likewise no need to refuse to let anyone new in to your world incase history repeats itself. Which it won’t. History teaches us that it is all a series of unique one-offs that develop us. Sometimes a lot more than we are expecting and I do think, certainly at this current stage that this chapter has made me a little colder towards new comers that wish to get close to me. Yet I know that will fade away.

So I sat here at my desk just as I am now writing this. My mind telling me things, my gut telling something else then it happened. An email came through confirming the end of the entire chapter and I was free. I gave myself a moment as I knew I wouldn’t absorb it fully instantly but I did feel a shift, a lifting of a weight. It was enough to do it. I gathered myself and my thoughts, I returned to my desk after a little walk and I opened my phone.

With a silent farewell in my thoughts it was time to move on. Block/Delete.

Spidey sense.

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What superpower would you have? How often do you hear that or get asked it? It’s pretty often isn’t it, it’s a great little conversation starter where people come up with all kinds of things with all kinds of reasons too. Being a superhero is a dream born as children with the eternal hope that hopefully at some point in our lives we will encounter a bizarre accident that will bestow upon us this gift of powers, and what a choice we have, the ability to fly, to be super strong, invisibility, laser eyes, x-ray vision, super speed the list goes on as far as our imaginations will carry us. Little do we know that most of these powers we already have, they are certainly something we can summon when we need them. We may just not know they are there.

Strength is something measured in so many ways and I think physical strength is probably the least important. Of course it is sound practice to be strong, be in shape and healthy, that goes without saying. Having our bodies running smoothly is very important not to mention all of the mental benefits to training and physical activity. But, to be emotionally strong that is something. To be able to take and make those hard decisions that life throws at you knowing that there will ultimately be a positive outcome. Making hard decisions in the knowledge that it is the right thing to do for the situation even if its not the easiest option. Our dealing and coping with life when decisions have been made for you, when your world has been turned upside down and you have to carry on when you don’t want to and you don’t even know what direction you are meant to be heading in. Accepting change, even if it wasn’t wanted and keep moving forwards. That is the true definition of strength.

As a self confessed comic book geek and superhero fan this subject stitches in very naturally with the health and wellness mentoring I do and even more it’s relation to the Evolution of Me. The last couple of years have been one hell of a journey and just like most other peoples lives it would have made quite the movie. I’ve definitely felt like the broken guy. Out there feeling like there was nothing left, with nothing of an old life to salvage and people just taken from me. I didn’t know what to do,  had no one to talk to, or so I thought. As with the movies there was a flash of lights, a fragment of hope. After some dust settles you do begin to see, I began to see. But everything looked different like I was looking through different eyes, or as I have come to learn I was actually using my own eyes for the first time in a long long time. That was the birth of my x-ray vision. I emerged with a filter that saw through everything I didn’t want in my life from that point onwards. Which we do, life teaches us what we do and do not want and our experience helps us discover these superpowers. It’s like an upgrade whenever we have to go through something that will take it’s toll on us. Life rewards us with strengths and abilities. Level up and we get to carry it through with us for when the next thing may happen.

Just thinking about it now, each superhero power does apply and come to life when we have been traumatised. Even invisibility, just like today. I was doing some shopping getting a few bits, minding my own business when I clocked one of my ex-partners friends and with me being 6’7″ I’m not overly subtle, especially when wearing my full compression wear fresh out of the gym. So I was seen, I know this but they to me were invisible. no need to look, swerve or react in any way. I just carried on doing what I was doing. This is life and how it divides and sets people off in different directions. There’s no need to drag the past with you everywhere.

Maybe the one thing I didn’t get was super speed but I’m guessing because I wasn’t left to get on with healing and instead just constantly reminded I should be hurting. But then again would you want speed like that? All you would probably do is run away and all that does is leave everything in an ugly mess waiting for you when you get back. I suppose the rapid healing and regeneration would be handy, it would have been nice to close off those wounds quickly. Humans, people..we can endure and recover from so much and I mean beyond the physical. We can take a pounding and the miracle of the body will repair itself or if not the modern medical team will work their magic and put us back together so we are as good as new on the outside. It’s the internal damage that takes its toll. There is only one way to get through that and tat is face it all head on and ride it out. That takes time, that takes strength. All those new strengths and powers we have learned. The mind is so powerful, it can lead us to incredible glories or petrifying lows if we let it.

Maybe though, most disappointingly I already had a superpower but I did my dam hardest to ignore it. My Spidey sense was tingling. In the back of my mind it was going crazy trying to alert me that something was wrong, that something was coming my way but I chose to extinguish it. We all have Spidey sense just we package it up a little differently. We otherwise know it as our gut feeling. Make sense? Of course it does, that gut feeling, that voice trying to alert us of something untoward, that feeling that there is something not quite right somewhere. That is the single most important lesson I have learned during this whole process, to listen to what is going. To let my heart take a back seat and let my gut feeling drive from now on. The heart still gets to make a few decisions but it all has to be run past the gut first.

Spidey sense, the truest guide and the most reliable part of you that you will ever have. Strength can be summoned, speed can be relative but trusting in yourself is paramount in the upkeep of remaining and reacting in a positive way. Even when negative things are coming, a positive frame of mind is better equipped to process and deal with anything, it doesn’t matter what. Positivity trumps all. Yeah the dark side is powerful but it is truly no match for the positive energy we can create.

So if your alarm bells start going off, even if it’s in the distance don’t ignore them. Go and investigate and I guarantee you that you will find something that needs your attention and in being proactive you will be on the front foot ready to tackle whatever it is. A world of superheroes all learning how strong and how amazing they can be. Each and every day tapping into that pool of infinite possibilities. Each and every day refining their powers to make themselves as happy as they can be.

no one is excluded in that, we all have the ability to rise above anything that happens to us. We all have the strengths to get through our darkest times and face whatever villains may be out there.

A million likes.

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What a time to be alive, what wondrous age of advancement, incredible technology and just plain and simple out and out wonderment. We want for nothing and each and every one of us quite literally have the world in our hands. We can virtually do anything from wherever we may be sitting, standing or laying. Yet maybe we have lost sight of what we value as important, on what ha actual value. Instead of investing time into those core values our focus appears to have drifted and potentially now run a ground into a world, a need to seek the approval and acceptance of virtual strangers. In a time where we are communicating around the clock and into every corner of the globe we can reach out to so many on such a broad array of platforms. Yet we are communication less in the traditional sense, less regard for the people we have around us and interact with on a physical level.

We don’t have time for anyone now yet we turn our backs and our faces are lit up by our phone screens in a micro second. An instant standout example is how our phones cut us off from what we are doing, we have evolved to not be able to ignore them , to pounce on them immediately as a new notification flashes up. We drop everything, I’m guilty of it too, we all are. One of the rudest and most blatant examples I see is in the supermarket. We all have a little scroll as we wait for our turn but you see it every time without fail, people get to the cashier and either just carry on ‘socialising’ or their phone will ring and they will answer it, ignoring the cashier and then clumsily attempt to juggle packing their shopping whilst clamping their phone into their neck. It’s so rude, does that cashier deserve to be ignored or barked at because your attention is laying elsewhere? Why can’t that call be left and returned in literally a few minutes? I just don’t get it.

Another worrying thing is this false reality that we have grown to project. Again, I was guilty of this. I’ll always hold my hands up to anything I’m talking about and have done myself. It’s this projection of popularity that I have grown to distance myself from but it courses through our lives like a virus. We are judged or we seem to think we are being judged by what our social media status is. I hate that term social media, why does everything have to have a name? But anyway, social media is a fantastic tool, something that can bring you information you need and send out information, messages that you want it to. I myself use it heavily to bolster my work and I know many others that do the same. Some earning great salaries from what they have created on it’s own. But I have a self imposed policy where I can leave it alone at night. I have everything scheduled to post so I know where everything is. Podcast on a Sunday morning, Positive shot on a Wednesday morning, blog on Friday morning and my new podcast (Shack of geeks) goes up on Sunday afternoons. Then I just pepper in the other days with notifications to remind everyone of those posts. Sprinkle in a few wellness and self care quotes and it’s all done.

So that for me is a perfect example of using social media for a good purpose as so many do but the majority share is a false reality. Instafamous, what a word that is, a word that has been created from nothing. Again people are and will earn great salaries and become ‘celebrities’ of sorts but for me, and I only speak for myself and my opinion it’s this projection of great life style or glitz and glamour when the truth is very different. now naturally we can all do what we want to do and be what we want to be but it’s the trickle down effect. The imagery passed down to the young and impressionable doesn’t give them facts about facts about life. I know people that do this, they very much live front of house exhibiting the glitz and glamour when behind the scenes their lives are so empty. Now that isn’t a judgement or anything else like that, if they are doing what makes them happy then that’s great but I view it from the perspective of the bigger picture. From the aspect of this being our life, our one way ride, a single ticket journey and these people I know and care about just seem to have or be working towards nothing. I think this gets me so much because I could never find my direction and I didn’t have social media to distract me.

In an age when life can be so hard, the expense of living can be crippling and it will not get any better it just concerns me that people are just falling further and further behind the curve. Not pursuing careers, living almost day to day, hand to mouth and believe me that is not a nice set of variables to exist in. Not having their own home, some not even having flown the nest yet. It’s got to be worked for, all of those things and social media can so easily sap our time and efforts reducing that window of productivity. People into their thirties and beyond coasting through life or just expecting what they want to be gifted to them. Now you don’t have to have dreams of grand success or lifestyle, even a humble life requires work, application. What does the social world get you? A double tap from people you have never met and don’t care about you, don’t even know a single thing about you.

We don’t need approval from anyone about anything in life. No one needs to confirm or sanction anything you do. Just don’t waste life, that is really the only point I am making. Do the things you want to do but just make sure that it’s the best use of your time and resources as possible and that you are doing it for your own happiness. Social media is a bit of a double edged sword. I absolutely love parts of it, I love how I can spread my work to a huge audience. I love how I have ridiculous full conversations with my best friend all done with Snapchat filters and I also love how I can lose myself just browsing, looking, watching and reading nonsense to unwind. But it needs to be policed, self policed. We shouldn’t let someone else life distract us form our own and what we want to achieve.

I fell foul of this, seeking approval and acceptance to who I was and what I was doing  because quite simply, then I felt I needed that rubber stamp because I didn’t know  that self worth only came from one place. I used it as a distract-ant, it saved me from looking at myself, from looking within. Finding that inner peace but when I did, when I reset the dials it enabled me to step away. The reinvention of the new me shed a lot of layers and a lot of unneeded insecurities and it has enabled me to become hyper productive but more importantly at an absolute balanced level of being at peace with who I am. I only need the approval of one person when I do or set out to do something, me.

I don’t need a hollow existence and I refuse to let my life slip by me while I’m paying attention to someone else’s. Their lives are ticking over nicely while you could potentially be running the risk of standing still and that is not something I can entertain. Of course I’ll have a social binge from time to time but I have learnt to use it as I need it. I have a low maintenance existence. I don’t seek or need approval, I don’t need the material, I don’t need negativity and I certainly don’t need a million likes.

Love: Part 1

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I Thought I’d touch on this subject seeing as this will be hitting you right as the most romantic, love filled day in the calendar lands in our laps. I am talking of course about the one and the only Valentine’s Day.

Firstly, let’s take to one side everyone’s boo-hiss attitude to Valentines Day claiming it is just a corporate spin of the wheel to make money. Well yes, February 14th no doubt generates millions and millions and makes the bottom of some pages look very handsome. But strip that back and look at it’s core, it’s meaning. It is a day to express love, how beautifully simple is that? Let’s leave Valentines alone for a minute and talk about the body of the subject, love. Love is something incredible and how do you even begin to define it and what it means? What it does? I can only really give my opinion of love and what I think love means and what it should be. For me it is something that is quite heavily learnt, as a child you are an emotional sponge and your concept of everything including love is born from the environment you are brought up in. So for me  my Mum and Dad were teenage sweethearts, life long companions that still believed and upheld all of those traditional values. It’s then something as you get older you crave to replicate. Naturally I ballsed it up a couple of times along the way but the vision is something that is still very real to me. Still something that is absolutely achievable.

Not so long ago a friend of mine, that is an injustice to what she actually means to me. She is very much one of my best friends, a rock, a confident and I love her very much. She asked me if I would ever get married again and without hesitation, without a single thought I answered, yes. Yes I would because irrespective of a failed marriage, irrespective of a long term relationship virtually turning me to dust that vision, that notion is still something I want my life to have. It’s not a desperate quest, I’m not intending to farm myself out to the first person that shows interest but I will remarry when the time, and the person is right. For the right reasons  and quite simply that will be because I want to and it feels right.

Feel, that’s the word isn’t it, we feel love, we feel loved and can feel unloved but how, and why? I love the feeling of being in love. I’m one of the soppy romantics that puts notes on the dashboard before work, random flowers and regular foot rubs kinda guy. Doing things I know people will like makes me happy, the expression of my love, it’s what in my opinion makes the world go round. I ain’t no slave but just being thoughtful and caring just kind of rings my bell. A bit like Christmas. Now I’m not overly good at receiving gifts but the pleasure I get from getting someone a present I know they’ll love brings me incredible happiness. You never know I could even sell a batch of my guitars in order to do something nice for someone.. but love goes beyond the one person, the partner. I think of my family, my friends and my daughter.

How can you start to quantify the love a father has for his daughter? Especially one so incredible as mine. She literally has the world in her hands and she just needs to decide what she wants to do with it. That girls of mine blows my mind and honestly with the rough ride she has had of it, seeing me go through he mill I just hope she will come through it all unscathed and be able to define her version of love and what she wants. That is a concern of mine, that I have not provided her with a stable interpretation of love and a family unit. I know her mum has and hopefully as she gets older and enters the realm of dating (which is never by the way) she will see past the mistakes I made and draw form how I am now, draw from her mother and from both sets of her grandparents.

Love is some what of a double edged sword though, a love that has dies or is not reciprocated is terrible. So painful and can send you spiralling out of control. Yet going through things like that, experiencing the hurt of love actually serves to educate you to what love shouldn’t be. It’s like sifting for gold , you fill that pan up with rocks, mud, dirt and silt from life river bed then you have to shake it about and slowly, all of the waste, all of the things you don’t need fall through the holes back into the river. They’re the bits that someone else might sift and decide that they have struck it rich. Then eventually, hopefully there are a couple of nuggets of gold left in your pan. Iv’e learnt you have to wait until this point, until all of the silt has gone otherwise you can catch a glimpse of something that looks like the jackpot but is really just fool’s gold. Pretty, captivating yet ultimately worthless to you.

Again though love isn’t restricted to people or a unity of one to another. Love is infinite. Look at what the world and life can offer, what we can achieve. Look at what an amazing playground the world is. Hobbies, interests, sports, wildlife, nature. All things that we fall in love with in our lives. Do I even mention music? That is something that without exception touches us all. We all love a song, a band or an artist. It was music that gave me my first ever taste of love. In 1989 at home in North London my brother goes into his room and puts on a CD single that his friend had lent him. The Stone Roses: Fool’s Gold 9:53 and there I was, in love. In love with the sounds, the rhythm, the words. That moment forged the direction of my passion for the rest of my life. I learned the guitar, I joined and started bands, I wrote songs, I played gigs. There we go again, my brother! The love I have for him is colossal, he’s my hero. He gave me music, he gave me basketball and he gave me someone to look up to. Love is without boundaries. It fills every aspect of who we are. Hold on, that’s the force isn’t it? It is in every living thing, it’s all around us, it flows through us. Was George Lucas just rebranding love when he gave us Star Wars? Well done  George.

The examples are endless and the potential of love is infinite. That’s why I can’t really process it now when people abuse love. It’s a purity that survives the attempted taints. Love does conquer all, for example when my dad passed away, asides from my failing relationship running parallel, with all of the pain and sorrow I was feeling, the isolation and the sadness it wasn’t any of those emotions that won the day, it was love. Love overpowered the darkest time of my life and brought me back to the fight. I don’t think of my dad with sadness, I think of him with love.That is how it works, love is positive energy and it cannot be beaten.

It is transferrable, you can give so much love away at no cost, you can show gestures of love to complete strangers and not be drained. It is a well that doesn’t run dry. Those random acts of kindness that you can do that is showing love for your fellow man. Something I feel this world needs so much more of. So stop the bus for someone, hold the door open, pick up a bag of dropped shopping, smile. It costs nothing but a moment of your time and it could transform someone else’s day. Love is a gift, it is a free gift.

I love love and even though I fear I may be starting to sound like an old school hippy preaching peace and love, well actually I hope I am because as I said  we all need more love, selfless love. I love what being in love can do to you. It, and this is true love I refer to; it see’s beyond the physical, it cares not for a ripped body or a beautiful face, it see’s beyond all of those temporary  and superficial things and stares directly at the real. It connects souls to souls in unbreakable timeless bonds.

I don’t even know if I have remotely expressed what I think love is and what it means to mean, I just like talking about it and what it can do for us all. I like that I have love in my life and anyone that feels that they don’t I can tell you now that you have more love in your world than you realise.

I am lucky to have had so much love in my life and from so many different places. My friends, my best friend, my family, my daughter, the role models of love my parents. The passions, interests and hobbies I have experienced so far and all of those yet to come. My lovers and partners, albeit now historic but we shared  and created love. With my life now moving into a new chapter you may ask how I feel about the prospect of new love and the answer is simple;

I am already always in love.